THE STORY OF MAI LAM

Without any formal training Mai has seamlessly blended the traditional with the modern, creating uniquely colourful designs that are slowly gaining her international recognition. Inadvertently showcasing the splendour that is Vietnam to the world, a country whose history is no less colourful!

Mai was born into a middle class family in Vietnam; growing up rebellious and free. One of the 'boys' she was adept at climbing trees and mastering her slingshot. Designing was the last thing on her mind. This ideal childhood was shattered by the U.S. war as it is known in Vietnam; having a profound impact on the way she viewed her existence and how precious life truly is. So in 1977, Mai her older sister and 4 children left Vietnam in search of a more secure life in Australia. Upon arriving she quickly realised the luxuries she was once accustomed to back home she could no longer afford, so what she couldn't afford she made, a new talent discovered!

After 20 years of family success in Australia, Mai her husband Henry and 5 children were drawn to their roots in Vietnam; it was time to give back to a country now entering into a very exciting new phase! It was her arrival back in Vietnam that saw the beginning of MAI'S; her eponymous brand featuring trademark multi-dimensional embroidery; natural dyes, embellishments with precious stones and the use of local fabrics.

Initially Mai's designs were sold from her workshop and design studio in District 10, quickly demand became overwhelming and a larger space was needed, thus giving birth to MAI'S, her flagship store at the historic Hotel Continental. Mai's quickly established itself as a favourite among tourists and locals not only for its unique garments but also for its inimitable gallery style use of the space.

Much of Mai's success can be attributed to her design philosophy; each piece telling its own story from 4 generations of family in Vietnam; grandparents, parents, sibling and now her own children. Drawing on her family history for inspiration Mai adds a lace up the back of the traditional Ao Dai resembling a French bodice, while authentic vintage U.S. army jackets are painstakingly band embroidered and embellished; beautiful softening the harsh reality of war. Full, soft cotton, floaty embroidered skirts and blouses are reminiscent of carefree times with her sister during the Hippie era of the 60's and 70's. In contrast you find stoned bashed jeans that are embellished with brass hammer flattened studs and adorned with signature embroidered peacocks and phoenix's; akin to the eclectic lifestyle of Vietnam. Whilst her silhouettes carry from collection to collection the embroidery, dyeing and embellishment is always evolving imparting more of her family history!
What dose the future hold for Mai Lam? Her desire to give back to Vietnam is always pressing on her consciousness pricking ideas. Her latest being an educational T.V. programme borne from her experience of survival as a refugee and the amazing life that has followed. The show will educate on inner and outer beauty, practical home tips on how to turn your old furniture into a work of art or re-fashion old clothes to wear for another season and even gardening ideas to make you and your home a showcase. Whilst never one to rest on her achievements Mai Lam will be expanding with another store planned for Ho Chi Minh City as well as internationally.


Truly an extraordinary journey that is far from over!

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